By: Horacio Rodriguez
I've always had an aversion towards insects. I'd see one on the ground and invariably send it to its grave with a swift stomp from my foot. In particular I'd single out roaches and bees. Stomping roaches seemed pretty obvious. They're disgusting, they're responsible for far too many restaurant closures and with the ability to survive nuclear winter, they'll probably rule the planet someday. They don't need an advocate. No regrets for those tiny lost souls.
As far as bees went, stomping on them seemed like a preemptive strike. A bee trotting around on the ground could silently take flight at any given moment like a pilotless drone and strike without warning, leaving me with a nasty sting. Although I've never been stung by a bee, I'd seen people who cower in fear at the potential trauma from a repeat event. I'd also come across those unfortunate folks allergic to bee stings who would run from a bee with the same fear in their eyes teenagers in slasher movies have while running away from a machete-wielding hockey-masked serial killer. So bees were villains and needed to be squashed.
That all changed when I started reading about their mass disappearance. Bees seemed to be dying off in large numbers on a global scale.
Why are bees so critical to our survival? Because they are responsible for the pollination of thousands of plant species of which a large chunk are staples of the human food supply. Consider how lame your next Super Bowl party would be without salsa (bees pollinate tomatoes!), guacamole (hey bees, thanks for the avocados!) and coffee (I had too much at that Super Bowl party yesterday and I need a cup of strong Joe). Seriously though, if the bees vanished we humans would be in all kinds of "Soylent Green" plus "Hunger Games" trouble with a side of "Matrix" (because machines don't eat).
The USDA issued a report in 2010 and gave the mysterious bee disappearance a name: Colony Collapse Disorder. It's not one thing killing off the bees but a combination that includes viruses, parasites as well as (this is where we humans come in) pollution, urbanization and pesticide overuse. Lots of really smart people around the world are working on fixing the bee permanent vacation problem but in the meantime we all need to do our best to keep their world (which is after all ours too) a little more hospitable.
So bees. We're good. Roaches? Watch your back.